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What is aphasia?

Aphasia is a communication disorder that results from damage to the parts of the brain that contain language.  Aphasia may cause difficulties in speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

What causes aphasia?

Aphasia is most often caused by stroke. However, any disease or damage to the parts of the brain that control language can cause aphasia. These include brain tumors, traumatic brain injury, and progressive neurological disorders.

What are some signs or symptoms of aphasia?

The specific symptoms and severity of aphasia vary depending on the location and extent of brain damage. Individuals with aphasia may have one or more of the following problems:

Difficulty producing language:

  • Difficulty coming up with the words they want to say
  • Substitute the intended word with another word (e.g., “chicken” for “fish” or “radio” for “ball”)
  • Switch sounds within words (e.g., “wish dasher” for “dishwasher”)
  • Use made-up words (e.g., “frigilin”)
  • Have difficulty putting words together to form sentences
  • String together words fluently but without making sense

Difficulty understanding language:

  • Misunderstand what others say, especially when they speak fast or in long sentences
  • Find it hard to understand speech in background noise or in group situations
  • Misinterpret jokes and take the literal meaning of figurative speech (e.g., “it’s raining cats and dogs”)

Difficulty reading and writing:

  • Difficulty reading
  • Problems spelling and putting words together to write sentences
  • D ifficulty understanding number concepts (e.g., telling time, counting money, adding/subtracting)

How can we help?

We will evaluate our client with a variety tools to determine the type and severity of aphasia.   We will then customize a therapy programme with activities to improve specific language skills affected by damage to the brain. Our therapy programmes are specially designed to be functional, relevant and enjoyable for the individual client. 

In addition, we will help our client use strategies to improve overall communication in different situations.  We will also teach family members how to communicate better with their loved ones with aphasia.  

How effective are speech-language pathology treatments for aphasia?

ASHA produced a treatment efficacy summary on aphasia [http://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/public/speech/disorders/TESAphasiaFromLeftHemisphereStroke.pdf] that describes evidence about how well treatment works.

Communication is extremely important for quality of life. Patients with severe communication difficulties might feel frustrated or depressed.  We believe that early intervention with the right therapy and good family support is crucial to our client’s recovery. 

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